Manufacturing and Marketing, PR & Advertising

Video: Whirlpool turns to storytelling to break through the clutter

June 7, 2013
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Whirlpool launched a new television spot last month titled “teen jeans,” which portrays a teenager aghast that her mother has washed her favorite pair of jeans, because she is worried that the trip through the washing machine will ruin the new look.

The 30-second commercial captures a common concern for many who have a coveted clothing item they don’t want to see worn out after a visit to the washing machine, and is part of a new focus on relatable storytelling that Whirlpool is incorporating into its appliance advertising to help consumers remember the Whirlpool brand.

“In 2012 we introduced (advertising campaign) Designed to Simplify, which is the overarching campaign for the Whirlpool brand, and this execution that we are doing in 2013 is all part of Designed to Simplify,” said Bill Beck, senior director, Whirlpool brand. “We’ve had great success; we actually saw the brand move into the No. 1 preferred appliance brand, which was a great achievement for it.”

Beck said it’s been at least three years since Whirlpool held the top spot.

To build on the momentum of the Designed to Simplify campaign, Whirlpool began thinking about how to relate even more with its target audience of women.

Rather than focus on the features of its products and how the machines achieve their outcomes, Whirlpool decided to focus on how its products eliminate or ease daily household dramas.

“How do we look at stories that are very relatable to our consumer?” Beck said. “Every-day experiences that our consumer goes through and we can put Whirlpool in it and show how the Whirlpool appliance is going to facilitate to make the mom, or whoever is using it, the hero of the day.”

Beck said that storytelling is one of the best ways to help people remember something that they’ve seen or heard. With all of the many messages people are absorbing in an average day — not just appliance advertising, but all the information that is being consumed on TV or through a mobile device — the campaign hopes to build a lasting impression of the Whirlpool brand.

So far it is working.

“We have seen our preference grow pretty much each quarter from when we launched it and that is our No. 1 metric that we look at is, ‘Are we driving preference for this brand?’

“The other aspects that we will look at are from the actual advertising tracking. What we saw with print is that our purchase intent increased about 19 percent with the print, and then this year we’ve added on TV so we are expecting that to continue to grow, but we saw a lot of great momentum with Designed to Simplify.”

Planning for the current campaign began in November 2012, with the campaign actually launching in April of this year and running through the end of the year. The planning included how to incorporate the storytelling aspect in each of the mediums that would be utilized to reach consumers.

“The key is making sure that we have elements of the story across all the different touch points,” Beck said. “You will start off with the story in TV and then move to print. In print you will see the jeans that were in the TV spot discussed or shown in the print spot.

“Because of print, and the way that we have different reach and weight, we can also tell different stories. We also have a story about the red dress and how the washing machine preserves that color and you don’t have to worry about it.”

Beck said that print offers greater opportunities for the brand to go beyond typical advertising.

“If you look at the June issue of Real Simple, we’ve taken the red dress that is in the ad and we’ve actually created three or four pages that talk about how you can accessorize that red dress.” 

By the fourth page Whirlpool’s laundry machines take center stage again.

No advertising campaign is complete without an online component and Beck said that consumers will also find “teen jeans” and “red dress” online throughout the campaign. The commercial for teen jeans is also available on YouTube.

“That red dress is then in the online advertising and you will see the fact that the red dress is being washed. In the online advertising you can actually bring in more details to it so you can explain how the machine actually does preserve the colors for you but continuing the element of the dress in that touch point.”

Finally, in creating the in-store marketing, Whirlpool is placing “red dress” and “teen jeans” stickers on its appliances as well as around its products to help consumers identify them, though the machine’s functionality becomes the main focus at that point.

“With this approach that we have and really helping consumers understand how an appliance brand like Whirlpool can simplify their lives, that is really the big idea that we are trying to go after with it,” Beck said.

The campaign was created by Whirlpool brand's creative agency, Arc Worldwide, a Leo Burnett Company.

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